A key Church of Ireland committee has welcomed Cardinal Sean Brady's warnings on the threat posed to marriage by the Government's proposed Civil Partnership Bill.
The Church of Ireland Gazette reported last week that the committee welcomed the emphasis placed on marriage and family values by Cardinal Brady in recent remarks he made about the Government's plans in St John's Cathedral in Limerick.
A spokesperson for the Church of Ireland's Church in Society Working Group on Legislation and Politics, with a special brief for the Republic of Ireland, said that the committee reaffirmed the position it took in its submissions to the Law Reform Commission that marriage must continue to receive special protection.
The spokesperson said: “The Church of Ireland has made it clear that marriage, which for us is between a man and a woman, must continue to be protected as it currently is under the Irish Constitution
“Therefore, any arrangement made by the state to accommodate the needs of other partnerships must not be considered a marriage or to be in any way equal to marriage”.
Cardinal Brady warned that the Government's proposals would change people's view of family and undermine the status of marriage.
He added that marriage “will always remain the best environment in which to raise children”. A Government which undermined marriage could not be said to be promoting the common good, Cardinal Brady continued.
He also warned that registrars who refused to officiate at same-sex civil ceremonies would be guilty of an offence, describing this aspect of the legislation as “an alarming attack on the fundamental principle of freedom of religion and conscience”.
The legislation could also lead to individuals and religious organisations being sued for “upholding their belief that marriage is an institution exclusively for men and women”.